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From 1942 to 2009 Madiba fought tirelessly for the human rights of all South Africans. To honour this great man, The Nelson Mandela Foundation asked that people all over the world give 67 minutes of their time, on his birthday, to help those less fortunate. This is one minute for every year he served our country.

This year, Virgin Money South Africa decided to donate 67 blankets to assist those in need during winter to a non-profit organisation called Oliver's House. Oliver's House was founded in April 2001; they started out running a soup kitchen in the Benoni CBD and have steadily grown ever since. They currently manage four social projects, namely:

  • Nomthandazo Children's Care Centre - for 210 children from age 6 months to 6 years.
  • An Education Learning Centre and a Computer Training Centre – tutoring approximately 70 students in Maths and Computer Skills so that they can re-write their Grade 12 exams.
  • The Zenzele Community Development project – assisting a local informal settlement community.
  • Oliver' Village – 11 acres of land being developed as a fully sustainable, environmentally friendly "village" which will house the Child Care Centre, Education Centre and HIV clinic. Fruit trees, vegetable gardens, recycling projects, and a number of other initiatives will be run from this village.

In addition to the purchase of the 67 blankets, Sandy Inggs from Virgin Money South Africa joined 163 other volunteers from 26 different businesses and organisations as part of the Madiba Day celebration at Oliver's Village. She arrived at eight thirty and was allocated to kitchen duty. Together with another volunteer, she was tasked with peeling a pocket of carrots to be used in the gigantic pot of stew to feed about 350 people. (Just in case you've ever wondered: yes, it's possible to get blisters from peeling carrots!)

Next up came sorting through a huge pile of clothes and shoes, which probably makes this a suitable moment to share a few tips about donating old clothes and shoes to charity:

  1. Please make sure all clothing and shoes are clean and in good repair
  2. Bind pairs of shoes together with sticky tape, or tie them together with the shoelaces.

In the afternoon, it was time to hand out all the food parcels and blankets to the locals from the neighbouring informal settlement. Seeing the hundreds of desperate people in need, from toddlers who are just learning to walk, to pensioners who are barely able to walk, one was reminded of how blessed some us are are in thinking that basic necessities like food, clean water, clothes and blankets are our right, when for most South Africans, these items are like gold.

Amongst the trainers who work in the Education Centre and Computer Centre, Sandy was happy to meet amazing people with vast amounts of passion and commitment to transferring their skills to the youth. Sandy has consequently been invited to join and add value to their motivational sessions, which are held once a month on Saturday mornings.

Sandy's parting challenge: don't wait for Madiba Day to make a difference in somebody's life. Why not commit to making a difference on a more regular basis? Volunteer an hour or two a month or give a small monthly financial contribution to an NPO of your choice. It's so rewarding to be part of something positive, both in helping people, and planet we live on.